Since the Subject Is Apologies ....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Since the Subject Is Apologies ....

In recent days, Pakistan's National Assembly has been among those strongly condemning Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about Islam. These and other government officials in Muslim-majority nations have demanded an apology from the pope. But Pakistan's National Assembly has a lot of apologizing of its own to do -- mostly to women.

The National Assembly didn't get around to acknowledging the horrific practice of honor-killings in Pakistan until 2004. Even as the bill (which would have criminalized honor-killings) was presented in the National Assembly, villagers in the rural Punjab tied two persons to a railway track for marrying against the will of the family elders, and both were crushed to death under the wheels of a passing train.

By the way, the honor-killing bill that the National Assembly approved in December 2004 included a provision allowing the killers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim's relatives. Nice touch.

Only a few days after the National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the pope's statements, The Observer reported that the vast majority of women now in Pakistan's prisons were charged, or are soon to be charged, under laws making it a crime to be a rape victim.

The Observer tells the story of Fareeda, a 19-year-old Pakistani woman who was raped last year, who made the mistake of telling her parents and was then criminally charged with fornication outside marriage. She received 25 lashes and was then jailed. It took a bribe to finally get Fareeda released.

So when it comes to apologies, anyone in Pakistan's National Assembly who isn't working day and night to rescind such barbaric laws and practices is in no position to demand an apology from anyone else.

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